I AM a writer, I AM a writer, I am a writer…

On Friday I signed and submitted a contract, legally binding me to revising my sex ed book first written in 2003. I’ve known about the possibility of revising for several months now, and have been working on it ever since the editor proposed the idea. Yet, I wasn’t sure I would go through with it until a few days ago. Allowing myself a way out, a changed mind, until the last minute. I’ve been researching, writing, going to writing groups, collecting stories from young people, and thinking about this revision for weeks on end. And I signed the contract.

Yet, I still don’t consider myself a writer.

I wonder what the hell it will take until I feel I can own that label – a writer. A successful book? And if that’s the case, how do I define successful? I mean, I’m revising a book I already wrote at the request of the publisher. They have to consider the book somewhat successful in order to ask me to update it, no? And if the answer is no, then I question their business sense.

my book

See? That’s a book with my name on it.

For some reason, it’s easier to claim the title of Author; maybe it’s because, in my academic life, I’ve “authored” several manuscripts and have the vitae to prove it. Being a writer implies a level of craft and creativity I’m not sure fits me.

What is a writer? What is an author? Who is a writer? Who is an author?

I’ll ponder these questions more as I continue updating my work.

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My three songs*

A friend from college posted this interesting piece about “Your life in three songs”  — basically, can you sum up your life in just three songs? I will continue to ponder this, and instead today I created “My current life in three songs.” Drum roll please…

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.  Song from my formative years, a sports rock anthem to reflect my fandom, a song that is epic to karaoke. I like the message as well. Though it’s a bit bleak, I like the idea of just getting on that train and going (on and on and on and on).

    12193405_10153633371510900_813237787469578861_n

    Me singing a song I can’t relate to at all.

  2. Vienna by Billy Joel  In general, I identify with almost all of his songs in some shape or form and, growing up outside of NYC in the 70s and 80s, he was simply the Man. This is a song that current me could sing to my “younger self.” Begging someone to “slow down” and advising “Though you can see where you’re wrong, you know you can’t always see when you’re right. You’re right.” It would have been nice, when I was younger, to have believed in myself a little bit more. I am turning out just fine.
  3. These are Days by 10,000 Maniacs.  The idea of living in the present, appreciating the mundane, the moment. Hearing this song instantly cheers me up when I hear it. I involuntarily smile whenever it comes on. And, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to sing as well:

These are days you’ll remember

Never before and never since, I promise
will the whole world be warm as this
and as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true
that you are blessed and lucky
it’s true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

These are days you’ll remember

When May is rushing over you with desire
to be part of the miracles you see in every hour
you’ll know it’s true, that you are blessed and lucky
it’s true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

These are the days
that you might fill with laughter
until you break

These days you might feel a shaft of light
make its way across your face
and when you do
you’ll know how it was meant to be
see the signs and know their meaning

You’ll know how it was meant to be
hear the signs and
know they’re speaking to you
to you

Thanks Jennifer and NPR for the inspiration! I was totally struggling to find something to write about. Another lesson about letting go and trusting that things will sort themselves out. And now to ponder how I can condense my entire life into only three songs. It will be interesting to see if any will actually overlap with the ones above. Stay tuned!

*Who remembers this game from KFOG in San Francisco?

I am putty in my hands

Thanks to a recent(ish) TED Talk, I am now playing with the identity of “Multipotentialite” – a person who doesn’t really have one true calling, but is lucky enough to find success in a variety of realms. I say lucky, but also recognize the challenges of this identity. It’s hard to focus. While it’s easy to find something that really grabs me, it’s harder to find something that sticks for long. Simply put, a Multipotentialite is in a potential state of mid-life crisis. The idea of finding that one thing that will keep me happy, settled, and satisfied for a long period of time is probably a concept I should just let go.

With that in mind, I pondered what matters to me today. Many of these things have been the focus of my life for a long time, while others are pretty new to the scene:

Issues I am passionate about (and may or may not have done anything to address them):

  • Incorporating healthy relationships into sexuality education. This goes beyond the new emphasis on teaching “enthusiastic consent” – which I am pleased to see – but to me needs to come from a more strength-based, inclusive foundation that addresses not just sexual and romantic relationships, but relationships of all kinds and across all domains (including digital ones).
  • Developing supports for those who have survived their own suicide at There is so little out there on this topic and I want to do something about that.
  • Supporting LGBTQ youth as they navigate their identity development, schooling, relationships, and family life. The idea that young people are at risk for losing their home, don’t feel safe going to school, and suffer abuse just because of who they are attracted to/how they identify on the gender spectrum sickens me.
  • The complex issue of welcoming and supporting Syrian refugees. I know nothing about this issue and I have no idea where to begin. But the news coverage and stories of struggle move me.

Note: I’m surprised I am somewhat stalling out here. I have strong opinions on MANY other issues, but nothing else right now – at this moment as I write this blog – really calls to me as something I want to dedicate a significant portion of my life to.

Things that I love/interest me (I dabble in these with varying degrees of success, enthusiasm, and expertise):

  • International travel
  • Road trips
  • Karaoke (especially the idea of singing in all 50 states and anywhere else I go)
  • The NHL
  • Sports talk radio
  • Mystery novels and crime shows
  • Microcars
  • Interacting with people, especially my friends
  • Writing
  • Mindfulness and Buddhism
  • Cooking/food in general
  • Bikram yoga

Things I used to do with great zeal, but have dropped off my radar:

  • Being involved in community theater and improvisational acting
  • Playing hockey
  • Reading tarot cards and horoscopes for others

Professional rabbit holes I have gone down that can still suck me in:

  • Policies related to how youth can successfully transition from adolescence to adulthood, especially those with “system experience.”
  • Respite for those who are taking care of chronically ill loved ones, as well as those in professions that are dedicated to supporting and healing others (this includes teachers).
  • Sexuality education inside and outside of school.
  • Strength-based approaches to incorporating youth voice into issues that matter to them.
  • Social networking to create communities
  • Access to education for women in developing countries
  • Creating culturally appropriate approaches to health care, especially mental health care
  • Policy issues related to women’s reproductive health, especially those related to fertility treatments.
  • The juvenile justice system.
  • Social justice as it applies to youth and young adults.

Work-related activities I enjoy doing:

  • Creating and reviewing surveys/interview protocols
  • Teaching/providing technical assistance
  • Synthesizing data
  • Seeing how different disciplines and theoretical approaches can fit together: Looking at systems and the big picture.

I am sure I could expand on all these lists, but will leave them for now. I both look forward to what my next passions will be, but also hope to be mindful of the fact that no longer will I assume something will be the “one thing” that changes my life and moves me forward. I hope to find comfort in the fact that there will always be a “right now” but not a forever.

endless road

This is not my path, but it sure is pretty (taken in Taos, NM).

Today I am grateful for discovering Emilie Wapnick and her website puttylike.com. To me, her approach to life is one I hope to emulate while following my own path.

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
― Pema Chödrön